Navy diver demoted in Aberdeen Super Pond deaths

Jury rules Senior Chief Petty Officer James Burger did not follow proper safety procedures

(Seaman Jah'mai C.J. Stokes/U.S.…)
January 19, 2014|By Tim Swift, The Baltimore Sun

The U.S. Navy has demoted the master diver of the Navy company that lost two men in a training dive last February in Aberdeen, according to The Virginan-Pilot.

A Navy jury found that Senior Chief Petty Officer James Burger negligently failed to ensure proper safety procedures were adhered to, the newspaper reported. On Saturday, the jury reduced Burger one rank to chief petty officer.

Navy Diver 1st Class James Reyher, 29, and Diver 2nd Class Ryan Harris, 22, drowned Feb. 26 while training at the "Super Pond" at Aberdeen Proving Ground. A civilian diver working with U.S. Army was killed during a dive there less than a month earlier.

In December, a U.S. Army report found the death of former Marine George H. Lazzaro Jr. was accidental.

Chief Warrant Officer 3rd Class Jason M. Bennett, Senior Chief Navy Diver David C. Jones and Chief Navy Diver Gary G. Ladd Jr. were also charged with dereliction of duty in the deaths of Harris and Reyher.

The three other men will face trial in the coming weeks.

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